Thankful Thoughts: The Tale of the Curmudgeonly Groom

Once upon a time, there was a curmudgeonly man who married a beautiful bride. As tradition would hold in those days, his bride stayed at home to care for the household, and soon enough, the children as well. The husband went off to work every day, and would come home, a bit dismayed by the state of affairs of his home. Thinking his bride could use some help in the area of household management, he rolled up his sleeves . . . and made a list for her:
 
1. You will have dinner prepared for me upon my arrival at home.
2. The house will be free from clutter every evening.
3. You will keep yourself presentable to greet me at the door.
4. After dinner, you will bring me the paper, my favorite slippers, and a cup of tea to enjoy as I unwind from the day.
 
The list of household laws went on and on. As the years went on, the bride did her best to comply with the list, but struggled under its inflexibility and harshness. Her own interests were always secondary to his. Though she did love her husband, she supposed, it was difficult on most days to feel the mutual love they shared. The distance between them only increased.
 
After many years, the then not-so-young-bride passed away. The curmudgeonly husband mourned her loss deeply. His greatest regret was that he was not sure if she ever knew how deeply he cared for her, because over the years they had become distant. 
 
Several years later, the curmudgeon met a lovely woman, and they fell in love. Not wanting to repeat the mistakes he had made in the past, he lavished her with love and praise. And she loved him back.
 
They were soon married, and began a life of wedded bliss together. The now not-so-curmudgeonly groom continued to lavish love, praise, and support on his new bride. She loved and respected him in return.
 
Then one day, the husband found an old slip of paper in the back of a drawer. He pulled it out to see what it was, and he began to weep as he read:
 
1. You will have dinner prepared for me upon my arrival at home.
2. The house will be free from clutter every evening.
3. You will keep yourself presentable to greet me at the door.

4. After dinner, you will bring me the paper, my favorite slippers, and a cup of tea to enjoy as I unwind from the day. . . .
 
It was the list that he had given his first wife, but that was not why he wept. He wept because he realized that his current wife, even though she had never seen the laws, did each of the things on the list. His wife cooked, cleaned, prepared, and doted on her husband, not because she had to, but simply because she loved him. She had obeyed him without even knowing what the laws were.
 
____________________________________________________________________________
 
Dr. William Greathouse told this story (or something similar) several years ago, and I have never forgotten it. The illustration exemplifies obedience out of love rather than duty. Though God does not change, as the curmudgeonly husband does in the story, my perception of God’s law and good works does.
 
If I am in proper relationship with God, basking in His love, craving His word, enjoying fellowship with Him, then obeying God comes easy. If my relationship with God is missing that intimacy, obedience causes distance and resentment.
 
Today, I’m thankful for a God who never changes, but also a God who allows me the free will to love Him, and to obey Him. I do not obey God out of force of law, even though He could force me to submit. I am allowed the freedom to obey out of love for Him. What an awesome God we serve.
 
I John 2: 5-6 NIV, “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
 
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